A Year in the Life of a Child

by Megan M.

At the age of two, J. speeds around on his orange bicycle at the birthday party like a tiny Matt Wilhelm, cruising up and down the driveway as he carves, turns, and artfully skids.

“No training wheels?” I ask his foster father incredulously.

Chris shakes his head, smiling. “He started riding on the Fourth of July.  Both he and our six year old learned this summer together.”

This year came with its share of firsts for Chris and his wife Tina, too. As their oldest was finishing his junior year of high school and the youngest prepared to enter first grade, they received the call they had been waiting for – a toddler who had entered the foster care system when he was a few months old had been placed with them. Although the TPR declaration had not yet been filed by J.’s mother, they hoped that when he crossed the threshold of their home, they were welcoming him home forever.

“What led you to consider foster care as a route to adoption?” I ask them while we sit by the pool, our children and their cousins playing in an inflatable jump house nearby.

“It was something we talked about when we were dating,” Tina replies, looking at Chris, “and I wasn’t sure about having another biological child after our daughter was born.”

Chris nods. Together they recount the harrowing experience of taking their four day old infant for a routine check-up, only to find she needed to be flown to Children’s Hospital for emergency surgery.  A small hole in her diaphragm, undetected after delivery, had made it possible for her abdominal organs to move upwards into her chest cavity, to begin crowding her heart. “You can’t imagine what it’s like to see your newborn lying there, hooked up to tubes,” they tell me, and I’m thankful that they’re right.

Nearly seven years later, their daughter is beautiful and healthy — with little to show for her early adventure other than a photo of the helicopter she was flown to Milwaukee on.  Yet as Chris and Tina thought about enlarging the size of their family over the past few years, the possibility of becoming adoptive parents through foster care became a stronger consideration, until they finally filed their initial application in the summer of 2011.

J. climbs on Tina’s lap and burrows his head in her collarbone, his heavy-lidded eyes announcing sleep, and our conversation turns. As I hear them tell stories about their own childhoods, I begin to understand that beneath Chris and Tina’s reasons for fostering, there is an even more profound example of love they each received from adults they encountered as children. Chris briefly tells me about the man who helped raise him, whom he has always called Dad and considered a father, despite the fact that they never had any legal or biological tie. Tina describes the impact of visits with her great aunt and uncle — foster parents for decades — of reading the powerful letters written by the children years after they had left the home. Both of them, it seems, have had powerfully loving relationships with people who chose a life of deliberate nurture . . . people who chose to actively care for one or more children without the obligation, the tangible benefit of doing so.

As Chris, Tina, and their family looks toward a November court hearing, they continue arranging for J. to make supervised visits with his mother on a weekly basis, fitting the travel time in with their other three children’s activities.  They are nervous and hopeful of the outcome of the court hearing. If the TPR is finalized, they’ll immediately start working with their social worker to file adoption papers.

“What if it’s not?” I ask, not knowing the intricacies of the legal process for a domestic adoption.

“I don’t know,” Chris says, a small frown drawing down the corners of his mouth. “It’ll be hard.”

As Tina rises to take J. upstairs for his nap, I can’t help but think of the sight of the little boy cruising without a care on his tiny bike. I hope he’ll remember the summer he learned the fine art of balance alongside his foster sister . . . along with this wonderful couple working and waiting to give him a forever home.

Make Miracles Happen!

Miracle on Canal Street is Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s signature community program that raises funds for 30 children’s charities – and we’re a beneficiary this year. We are honored to have been chosen as a signature charity by Lamar Outdoor Advertising Milwaukee!

Miracle on Canal Street began in 1994 as a way to carry on the Potawatomi tradition of nurturing younger generations so they grow to lead healthy, productive lives. Since its inception, Miracle on Canal Street has raised more than $11.5 million, helping more than 375 local children’s charities.

Half of each $3 Miracle Bingo game goes to the Miracle fund, which totaled nearly $1 million last year! Give the gift of a promising future by playing the Miracle Bingo game now through December 13. Visit paysbig.com/miracle to learn more.

Working with Birth Parents

Join us for an engaging evening with Peg Cadd around the topic of working with birth parents. Peggy is an adoptive parent who has honed the art of working with the birth parents who have come into her life while she was fostering children.

This training will include a presentation portion as well as a lot of time for questions.

Tuesday, November 6th

6:00-8:00 p.m.

Cost: $10

Via webinar from your home computer or in person at: ARW, 6682 West Greenfield, Suite 310, Milwaukee, WI 53214

Register online at: http://birthparentwork2012.eventbrite.com  or contact info@wiadopt.org or 414.475.1246

A Place in My Heart Conference: Finding Your Life Vest in the Storm

The life experiences that your children have faced before coming into your care leave profound and lasting effects. Even after leaving a negative, painful or traumatic environment, the consequences can ripple through your home and your family on a daily basis. This workshop will examine your child’s past and what, if any, emotional and behavioral problems they may have inherited. Dr. Delaney will  offer you concrete tools to use in understanding and healing your child. His perspective will help you attack these negative behaviors from multiple angles.

Dr. Rick Delaney is a nationally known speaker and consultant to foster, kinship and adoptive parents. He is a consultant to Casey Family Programs and other foster care and adoption agencies. Dr. Delaney is the author of several books in the area of foster care and adoption, including Fostering Changes: Myth, Meaning and Magic Bullets in Attachment Theory and A 3-D View of Foster, Kinship and Adopted Children (co-authored by James Kagan, M.D.). He has helped to develop the SRDI (SAFY Risk of Disruption Inventory), an instrument that identifies foster children’s risk of disruption. He is the principle investigator of Foster Parent College, an online resource for foster and adoptive parents, and has helped to develop an online training series for Portland State University’s adoption-competent mental health certificate program. Dr. Delaney is a father and step-father and lives in Colorado and Texas.

 

 

 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

9am–4pm

Glacier Canyon Lodge at the Wilderness, Hwy 12 & Hillman Road, Wisconsin Dells, WI

REGISTRATION

Cost: $45 per person/$80 per twosome          $50 for professional

Registration Deadline: October 12, 2012

Register online at http://aplaceinmyheart2012.eventbrite.com Or call 414-475-1246 for more information

Hotel Accommodations:

Glacier Canyon Lodge at the Wilderness, HWY 12 & Hillman Road, Wisconsin Dells

A block of rooms has been reserved. Please call 1-800-867-WILD (9453) to make your reservations. Ask for block #307256 for Adoption Resources of Wisconsin at Glacier Canyon Lodge.

$99 for Double Queen with Sleeper couch at Glacier Canyon Lodge, $139 for 2 bedroom Deluxe Condo 

Please note: the above rates are for Friday, November 2. A limited number of rooms can be extended for the same rate on Saturday, November 3.

This event is sponsored by Adoption Resources of Wisconsin, Jockey Being Family, Catholic Charities – Madison, Catholic Charities – LaCrosse, Family Servcies and the Department of Children and Families.

Our Home Our Family

What is Our Home Our Family?

Successful adoptions and foster care placement don’t begin or end when families open their hearts and homes to welcome the children into their lives. Success comes through positive communication, education, peer support and coaching skills. That’s what Our Home Our Family (OHOF) is.

OHOF has been tested with real families just like yours . . . and the results have been amazing:

  • 97% of couples who have been trained felt that their family functioning had improved.
  • 99% of couples trained said they had a better understanding of their family’s needs and challenges.
  • Couples reported a 380% increase in confidence when dealing with their children’s behavior.
  • The length of time between instances of children’s troubles at school increased by 72%.

Better yet, all of these improvements have held for a full year after training – in many situations, families are still seeing positive changes five years after they took the OHOF classes.

“The Our Home Our Family program encouraged us to spend more time as a family doing more things together and talking more openly about things that we normally would never have talked about in the past.”

Is Our Home Our Family Right for Me?

Our Home Our Family isn’t just a one-shot workshop. By commiting to a series of training sessions, you and your partner will learn

  • How to stay connected and keep your relationship strong through good times, bad times and challenging times.
  • How to spot warning signs in your relationship with your child and with your partner – and how to diffuse highly stressful situations.
  • How to calm down when you’re boiling over with anger or frustration – and how to help your child cope with a meltdown.
  • How to work through conflict in your relationship with each other and with your children.
  • How to manage ongoing relationships with members of your child’s birth family.

Our Home Our Family not only provides you with the tools to strengthen your relationship with your child and your partner, but will teach you how to use and adapt the tools to fit your unique family situation. You’ll meet other parents facing similar situations and, over the course of your nine sessions, build a personal support network that you can continue to rely on as your family grows.

This program requires a major investment of time and energy from lives that are already busy and demanding; but in return, you’ll see a major impact on your family life. Come join us.

“My partner and I have learned that it is important to put each other first and nurture our relationship. We make time to talk and just be together so we can stay connected, which enables us to face the many challenges we face as we parent our hurt children.”

5 sessions

Saturdays, October 13th, October 20th, November 17th, December 1st, & December 15th

Adoption Resources of Wisconsin

6682 W. Greenfield Ave., Suite 310

Milwaukee, WI 53214

Online registration: http://ohof2012fall.eventbrite.com

Or call 414-475-1246

Fee: $55 per couple

Includes materials, lunch each session, celebration dinner, and child care stipend.

You will also receive a 50% off registration fee to our annual A Place In My Heart Conference in Wisconsin Dells on November 3rd.

Our Home Our Family™  is a curriculum developed by Adoption Resources of Wisconsin and LCLC, Inc., Seattle. For more information about the curriculum, visit our website www.ourhome-ourfamily.org.

Basic African American Hair Care

Confused about how to care for your African American child’s hair? Come learn the basics from the experts at the Hosea LaMont Beauty Science Institute. This course will go over basic care, products, and tips. It is a great starting point, refresher and lead up to our Advanced Hair Care class on October 13, 2012.

We ask that you do not bring your child to this event and childcare WILL NOT be provided.

This course will be available in person or on the web. If you select to participate through webinar a link will be e-mailed to you before the event.

Understanding Anger and Aggression in Children in Care and Children Who Were Adopted

Join us for an evening with children’s emotion expert Dr.  Rick Delaney.  Rick will focus on helping you understand and help your adopted children with anger management. This presentation will target anger outbursts, temper tantrums, dysregulation, as well as social and physical aggression. Rick will also address underlying patterns and issues related to anger. By attending this training families will gain access to family-based interventions and tools to address your children’s anger.

Attendance is either online via webinar or at the ARW office in Milwaukee, WI.

Register Now!